Athena Stevens
Sarah Lawrie for Aegis Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre
Finborough Theatre

Athena Stevens, Leigh Quinn Credit: Nick Rutter
Athena Stevens, Leigh Quinn Credit: Lily McLeish
Athena Stevens Credit: Lily McLeish

British Airways may look as if it is rolling in money, with reported profits in 2018 of 1.95 billion, but when the company damages the wheelchair of the character Scrounger, who suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy, they are reluctant to pay for that damage, turning her life into a nightmare that plays havoc with her sleep, strains her relationship with her boyfriend and leaves her stranded in her flat for most of seventy six days.

The actor Athena Stevens as Scrounger emphasises the enforced immobility of the character by sitting throughout the performance, centre stage of Anna Read’s strikingly surreal set, mostly communicating by phone, to a busy world of characters, all played impressively by the very energetic Leigh Quinn.

The encounters are generally amusing and underscored by the kind of “yakety sax” comedic musical style that often accompanied absurd television situation comedies of the last century. The play depicts the airline as insensitive and mocks the people around her, showing her friend Emma constantly preparing to run a marathon for children in a country whose name she can never recall and an Italian with stereotyped mannerisms who can’t help telling her he is influential with EU people to such an extent that he will personally ask them about the EU’s regulation 1107/2006 that will defend her rights. That is until, months later, he tells her not to mention the regulation to anyone because it has loopholes.

Not surprisingly, Scrounger is frustrated with her liberal friends whom she decides are complicit in the situations that are causing her difficulties. She opens and closes the show, speaking directly to the audience, an angry cynical reproach to the “left-leaning Guardian-reading... red-voting... conflict-avoiding, zen-loving, feminist-supporting... liberal-minded you.”

It's an unfair comment that is likely the product of isolation but she very pointedly asks if what happened to her happened to you, “what are any of you going to do about it?"

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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